The Oman Border Fence Project 2021
A Journey through the Hydraulic, Agricultural and Funerary Landscapes of al-ʿAyn
Keywords:Collective tombs - Iron Age cemetery – PIR tombs – Aflaj – Iron Age Agriculture
Over a six-month period from January to August 2021 the Historic Environment Department of DCT Abu Dhabi carried out archaeological monitoring and excavation along an 11.5km stretch of a project to renew the existing border fence between UAE and Oman. The project produced a wealth of new data on the development of the historic oasis landscape of al-ʿAyn. Some of the most significant features include a monumental stone tomb, an apparently extensive Iron Age cemetery and high-status tombs of Late Pre-Islamic (PIR) date. Along with this funerary landscape we have identified more than 50 ancient aflaj or underground water channels of various dates and techniques of construction, along withextensive evidence for distinct phases of Iron Age agriculture and the organization of their associated irrigation systems and agricultural plots. This paper will provide an overview of the nature and progress of the fieldwork and initial study of the finds associated with the various feature groups, including a corpus of Iron Age and PIR ceramics from both funerary and agricultural contexts, a large number of chlorite vessels, PIR iron weaponry, extensive environmental samples and information on the geology and wādī systems shaping this cultural landscape.
Boucharlat R. & Lombard P. 1985. The oasis of al Ain in the Iron Age: excavation at Rumeilah 1981-1983, survey at Hili 14, Archaeology in the United Arab Emirates 4: 44-73.
Cronyn J., Pye E., &Watson J. 1985. The recognition and identification of traces of organic materials in association with metal artifacts. The archaeologist and the laboratory: 24-27. York: Council for British Archaeology.
De Paepe P., Rutten K., Vrydaghs L. & Haerinck E. 2003. A Petrographic, chemical and phytolith analysis of late pre-Islamic Ceramics from ed-Dur (Umm al-Qaiwain, UAE). Pages 208-28 in D. T. Potts, H.M. Al Naboodah & P. Hellyer (eds.) Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Archaeology of the UAE. London: Trident Press.
Haerinck E. & Overlaet B. 2016. Mleiha (Sharjah, UAE): The 2009 & 2012 Belgian Excavations of Mound AI - pottery and chronology. Sharjah Archaeology 15: 40-83.
Jasim S.A. 1999. The Excavation of a Camel Cemetery at Mleiha, Sharjah, U.A.E. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 10: 69-101.
Jasim S.A. 2020. The necropolis of Jebel al Buhais. Prehistoric discoveries in the Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Sharjah: Sharjah Archaeology Authority.
King G. 2009. Camels and Arabian balîya and other forms of sacrifice: a review of archaeological and literary evidence. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 20/1: 81-93.
Mouton M. 1992 (publication in 2008). La Péninsule d’Oman de la fin de l’Âge du fer au début de la période Sassanide (250 av.–350 ap. JC). Thèse de doctorat, Université Paris 1Panthéon-Sorbonne. BAR int. Séries 1776, British Foundation for the Study of Arabia Monographs n° 6, Oxford, 2008
Pellegrino M.P., Degli Esposti M., Buta M., Tagliamonte E. & Ali Hassan S. 2019. Grave goods from the long chamber tomb “Dibba 76” (Fujairah, UAE): a first inventory, AAE 30: 32-74,
Power T.C. & Sheehan P.D. 2011. The Bayt Bin ‘Ãti in Qaṭṭāra oasis: a prehistoric industrial site and the formation of the oasis landscape of al-‘Ayn (UAE). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 41: 267-282.
Power T.C. & Sheehan P.D. 2012. The origin and development of the oasis landscape of al-‘Ayn (UAE). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 42: 291–308.
Power T.C., Al Jahwari N.S., Sheehan P.D. & Strutt K.D. 2015. First preliminary report on the Buraimi Oasis Landscape Archaeology Project. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 45: 233–252.
Power T.C., Benoist A. & Sheehan P.D. 2019. An Iron Age Ceramic Sequence from the Bayt Bin Ati, al‐Ain, UAE. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 30/1: 75-102.
Sheehan P.D., Power T.C., Karacic S. & Costa S. 2022. Al Ain Museum: an ancient landscape beneath the carpark. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 51: 353-69.
Tagliamonte E. 2018. Stone vessels in Avanzini & Degli Esposti M. (eds.) 2018, Husn Salut and the Iron Age of South East Arabia. Excavations of the Italian Mission To Oman 2004-2014. (Arabia Antica 15), Rome: l’« Erma » di Bretschneider: 279-300.
Al-Tikriti W. Y., The southeast Arabian origin of the Falaj system. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 32: 117-138.
Wilkinson J.C. 1977. Water and tribal settlement in southeastern Arabia: A study of the aflāj of Oman. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Ziolkowski M., 2001. The Soft Stone Vessels from Sharm, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. AAE 12: 10-86.
How to Cite
Archaeopress Publishing, Oxford, UK